Guest Post With Author Susan Mesler-Evans!

Hi everyone! Today on the blog, we have an exciting post for you -- author Susan Mesler-Evans is here to talk about why she chose a queer retelling of Pride & Prejudice, MOST ARDENTLY, which is out now! So without further ado, let's get into it! 

About the Author

Susan Mesler-Evans

Susan Mesler-Evans is a writer, college student, D&D enthusiast, theatre nerd, and horrific procrastinator. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Susan now lives in Florida, and can often be found reading, scrolling through Tumblr until 2 AM, overanalyzing her favorite fictional characters and relationships, bingewatching comedies on Netflix, thinking about writing, and even, on occasion, actually writing. MOST ARDENTLY is her first full-length novel. 

Guest Post By Susan Mesler-Evans!

Instant Retelling, Just Add Lesbians!
From the countless fairy tale retellings you’ll find in the YA section at the bookstore to the various American remakes of British TV shows, one thing is certain: we love taking preexisting stories and making them our own. And we also love consuming those new versions. It may seem silly, but there’s just something nice about returning to a story that’s familiar, but different. Hell, I must’ve read five “there’s only one bed” fics about the same fictional couple in the past month. (Spoiler alert: they share the bed and it leads to shenanigans.)
Some retellings are too close to the original for their own goods, while others stray too far, but a truly great one will keep the spirit of the original, while still bringing something new to the table. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of the most popular targets for retelling, and it’s easy to see why; it basically invented the modern romcom. Whether people are transplanting the action to a vlog in modern-day California, telling the story through a Bollywood musical, or throwing in a few zombies, it seems there’s a spin on this romance for everyone. I’ve read and watched countless versions of it over the years, and I can remember thinking, “Man, this is great, but you know what would be even better? If this were gay.”
So… I wrote a version where it is.
When I decided to pen my very own professional Pride and Prejudice fanfic, I had two goals in mind: create a version of our favorite story for all my fellow LGBT+ Janeites, and introduce the story to people who wouldn’t normally be into Jane Austen’s work. The result: Most Ardently, in which Longbourn goes from a country estate to a terrible apartment complex, Mr. Darcy is now a disaster lesbian, and our Miss Bennet is simply trying to get through her first year of college in one piece.
In some ways, writing a retelling was easier than a purely original story. I already had a roadmap; I just had to figure out how to translate plot points and character motives for the modern day. Some were easy – like, Mrs. Bennet being fixated on one of her daughters marrying rich is pretty understandable when they live in a small apartment and she’s still making student loan payments. Others, not so much – justifying two of the Bennet sisters staying at Netherfield for a month was a lot harder now that they didn’t have to travel via horseback.
In others, though, it was harder. I was never sure if I was really nailing the classic Lizzy/Darcy banter, and I often worried that some changes made to the characterization would be seen as too much. And, this is Jane freaking Austen we’re talking about. I had a lot to live up to! And did I? 
I mean… one’s considered to be one of the greatest authors in the English language and the pioneer of modern romance novels, and the other one’s a college student who has to force herself to write a 500-word comment for a class discussion post. So. Like. I’ll let you be the judge of that one.
Difficulties aside, writing this book was fun. Exhausting, but fun. It was great to tweak the story in ways I always thought about, and experiment with new dynamics between the characters. And, most of all, I was writing a book I wanted to read; a sweet, fluffy romance between two young women. No death, doom, and gloom, lots of snark, everyone lives happily ever after. If this book reaches even one person who needed that, I’ll have done my job right.
Some may say retellings are just lazy, but I say, there’s nothing completely new under the sun, and we revisit classic stories for a reason. Just like we’ll always find new ways for Cinderella to meet the Prince, and Snow White to eat a poison apple, we’ll always find new ways for Lizzy and Darcy to fall in love.
I like the one I came up with. I hope you do, too. 

About the Book

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Title: Most Ardently
Author: Susan Mesler-Evans
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Ebook, 370 Pages
Published October 2019

Summary: Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with. From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats -- which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.

We'd like to thank Susan for taking the time to stop by the blog to do a guest post today! We're super excited about MOST ARDENTLY, and we hope that you are, too! :-)

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